First Hit: Poorly conceived and acted, there were some funny moments, but that’s all.
The concept could have been good. Policeman hires an UBER driver and car to help him solve a significant crime.
The opening sequence attempts to establish that Detective Victor “Vic” Manning (Dave Bautista) and Detective Sarah Morris (Karen Gillan) are ready to capture Oka Teijo (Iko Uwais) a ruthless cop killer and drug trafficker. Entering a large downtown LA hotel, they go up to Oka’s room to make an arrest and are met by Oka’s bodyguards. Fisticuffs and gun battle ensue between Sarah, Vic, Oka and his men.
This opening scene struck me an unrealistic because there wasn’t any backup police and because Sarah and Vic were wearing bulletproof vests with “Police” imprinted signage, this appears to have been a planned raid and should have had a backup.
The impressive battle moves from the hotel room to the lobby, to the street and the firing of pistols by the police in crowded public areas was probably not realistic. Then Sarah gets killed by Oka and Vic is devastated.
Then we meet Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) who works at a goods store and to make extra money he drives for UBER. His longtime friend Becca (Betty Gilpin) and he are working together to open a women’s only cycling exercise studio called “Spinsters.” It’s evident that Stu has more than just friendship on his mind with Becca.
The story moves six months into the future and Vic is getting Lasik surgery, where he is told that he’ll have a hard time seeing for a few days and he’s not to drive a car. This is the set up for him to hire an UBER to get around. His daughter Nicole (Natalie Morales) sets it up on his phone so that he can get to an Art Opening featuring her sculptures. On the afternoon of his daughter Nicole’s opening, he gets a call from an informant that Oka is going to be getting a new shipment of drugs and he can nail him.
Scrambling to his car, he tries to drive, but the car ends up in a construction hole. He calls an UBER, and this is where Stu and Vic meet up.
They are opposite types of people. Vic is brutish, pushy, and very aggressive in his behavior. Stu is focused on pleasing people, he wants 5 Star reviews, and is very accommodating. He’s also unassertive and is unable to tell Becca what he wants out of their relationship and hopes to just sneak into her life somehow.
From here the Stu and Vic spend their time together pursuing the whereabouts of Oka so that Vic and get his revenge.
Added to this story is that Vic’s boss Captain Angie McHenry (Mira Sorvino) is not one of the good guys and hinders Vic’s capturing the terrorist Oka.
As one might expect from sticking two very different types of personalities together, there are out loud funny moments during their escapades. Although predictable, the ending scene when Vic shows up at his daughter’s house for Christmas was sweet. Also, using the reference to the UBER pool feature as an issue in their chase was cute.
I thought the fight scene in the sporting goods store to be of little value to the film. The hot sauce warehouse scene almost as bad.
Nanjiani’s acting was overwrought and overdone. There was a constant smirk on his face, which made this film seem like it was a joke for him as well. Bautista was overzealous in his brutishness towards Stu. The well-worn trick of not using Stu’s correct name (kept calling him “Steve”) as a way to demean him, lacked punch or relevance. Sorvino’s role as the crooked cop was uninspired and had no background to make it realistic. Morales was a bright spot in the film as her even-keeled approach made her role work. Gilpin as Stu’s love interest was good as well. She was able to make me believe her. Uwais was okay as the uncaring, ruthless drug dealer and cop killer. Tripper Clancy wrote this script and its failings as a cohesive story showed up in multiple places. There was little need to have the manager of the sporting goods store change from jerk to longing for a friendship with Stu during the fight scene in the store. There are many such scenes in this film. Michael Dowse directed this with little concept of how to put together these scenes into a story that is believable, funny, and interesting. It didn’t engage well.
Overall: Stuber was stupid.